Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Character of Names with Amy Carol Reeves

I was excited to write this post because names are a huge deal for me in my books.  I feel as if the name is so connected with the character that I cannot begin writing until I have nailed down the first and last names of all the main characters. Here were my specific thoughts as I decided character names in Ripper:

Arabella Sharp: I came up with Arabella pretty early.  First, I needed a name used in the Victorian period.  Arabella was unique; it was used in the nineteenth century but not overly popular.  The meaning of Arabella is beautiful lion which I thought was perfect for her.  With her untamed red hair and strong spirit, well…my heroine’s name just had to be Arabella.  

Simon St. John:  The love triangle in Ripper emerges from the love triangle in Jane Eyre. The sensible and yet enigmatic Simon St. John is based on St. John Rivers in Brontë’s novel.  I did have some trouble negotiating his character with Rivers.  Simon has Rivers’s classic good looks and brains, his strong interest in theology and humanitarianism, and yet, although veiled, unreadable at times, (I think) he is kinder than St. John Rivers.        

William Siddal: William seemed to be the perfect name for Abbie’s broody Rochester-like love interest.   The name was, of course, popular in the nineteenth-century and it has such a strong connotation to it. Quite literally the name means to be strong-willed or a protector. Also, the name seemed so much more solid than other Victorian names like Godfrey or, say, Alistair.

Chester Clairmont: A sniffly self-absorbed suitor for Abbie.  Could his name be anything else?

Mariah Crawley:  I truly loved Mariah’s character from the first time I began sketching notes for her.  Abbie certainly pushes against the limits of her society, but she does so mainly for her career ambitions or to follow her steely conscience; however, Mariah likes to be shocking often simply for the sake of being shocking.  Like Abbie, she is intelligent and career minded, and yet she smokes cigars, she has love affairs and is quite sexually liberated.  Because of all these reasons, it was very important for me to have a bold and yet respectable name for her.  “Mariah” seemed to fit well.  I couldn’t picture this character with anything delicate like say, Maisie or Lilly.  Mariah seemed to be the perfect fit. 

Amy Carol Reeves has a PhD in nineteenth-century British literature. She published academic articles before deciding that it would be much more fun to write about Jack the Ripper. When she is not writing or teaching college classes, she enjoys running around her neighborhood with her giant Labrador retriever and serial reading Jane Austen novels. She lives in Columbia, South Carolina with her husband and two children. Ripper is her debut novel.

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